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THE world trip his journal is to let all those i know and care about (hello!) get a little bit more info about what im doing, and where. Also, its a gesture to calm my poor mums nerves whilst her first born child explores the big wide world. Hopefully it wont back fire

Probably my last entry

INDIA | Tuesday, 28 August 2007 | Views [791]

The end of my trip is very nigh now- it seems like i was planning all this yesterday, and i cant believe that on Saturday my 6 months will be over and i will e flying back to England. I wont pretend im not looking forward to going home, but i have had an unbelievably brilliant time; I think when im back on English soil im going to look back and not quite believe that the last 6 months actually happened without looking at my photos. It pretty much goes without saying that I will be traveling again, and i definitely will be coming back to India. India especially has been a roller coaster, but the place has really charmed me with the peoples friendliness and scamming audacity in equal amounts, and all the places we have been have all left their individual impression.</p><p>The last week and a half has been hectic. Last Sunday we left Dehli in the luxury of a chauffeur driven air conditioned car,  a every far cry from the previous government buses. As I handed over my 50 pounds for 8 days and 7 nights of car, I was at first skeptical if that amount of money ( over half a weeks budget when your in India- you can also apparently buy a camel for that sort of cash) was going to be worth the experience. After the first day I was so happy we got the car!! It was totally worth the money for the hassle from touts and scheduling public transport, and with the amount of luggage we all have now it was so good just to load the lot into the boot and not worry about it. We also covered far more distance than we could have on the buses and trains. From Dehli we drove with Vinot our driver ( or 'Vinnie' as we liked to call him) to Pushkar, which was one of my favourite paces in Rajastan  after Jaislamer. It was really small, with its function divided between being a holy city for pilgrims coming to its lake, believed to have sprung from a Lotus flower that was dropped by Brahma, and for hippy tourists. It was a really vibrant place, with, importantly, cheap shopping galore. </p><p>From Pushkar we visited Udaipur ( where some of the Bond film ' Pussy Galore' was filmed, dont you know). This was a properly flying visit considering the amount of things the town had to over- in one day I went on a trek on a Marwari horse, visited two lakes, the city palace, had a quick cookery class, and saw several other sites. Its a really romantic place, which i unfortunately felt i didnt do proper justice to because i was too tired to enjoy it as much as it deserved.</p><p>From Udaipur we went to Jaipur, the regional capital. Not so pretty after being in rural Rajastan, despite being toted as the pink city. Many of the main sights, including the Hawa Mahal were under renovation work, but the 'Amber Fort', not somewhere i had really heard of before, was breath taking; the abandoned old city of Jaipur, cast in gold stone and topped by the Amber fort, was so beautiful, it was so worth the visit. This description is very brief so doesn’t do the place justice, but i cant recommend it enough.</p><p>From Jaipur, we commenced our final long car journey to the final point of the gold triangle, of Agra. On the way we visited the short lived Mughal city of Fatehpur Sicri, and its mosque. The mosque was amazing, but the touts, aggressive persons wanting to your guide, and the people wanting to take a photo of you got very tedious very quickly- it was certainly the place were I felt most hounded, and it was a relief to hand over 250 rupees to get into the peace and quiet of the old city ( it was worth a look, but if it hadn’t been for the prospect of the touts outside, i dont think i would have appreciated it as much for the price.)</p><p>And then finally, the Taj Mahal!! Agra, we had heard, was a very dirty place to be polite. i thought, how bad could it be? Very, Very bad was the answer- it was incredibly dirty, smelly and in a general state of disrepair, which sat at extreme odds with the amount of tourist money that was coming in through the Taj- Taj entry costs 750 rupees for foreigners, thats just under 10 pounds, and what i would spend on food, accommodation and transport on a normal day. This amount of tourist money flooding in was just not reflected in the rest of the city.</p><p>We went to the Taj at 6 am, to try and catch the dawn breaking- it was a perfect time to go as it wasnt too hot, there werent so many people ( it was heaving by 7 am) and we randomly saw Seal and Heidi Klum, which was weird! Im so glad to say that the Taj wasnt an anticlimax for me- it was so beautiful, and though i wasnt sure whether i was in awe of it, or its fame, i was definitely in awe. Then, we didnt really do anything else in Agra- it was just too damn smelly and expensive! Also we had to have some time to prepare, as we had to say a  sad farewell to Vinnie and the car, and turn our steps towards the scrum that was the train station.</p><p>We took an over nighter, all 4 of us plus Daanias ( Clare and Linzs friend) two friends, which was cool having the 6 of us as we got 6 beds together which minimized the stares and was just plain more fun, and got to Varanasi yesterday afternoon. Varanasi is an 'interesting' place, being the most holy Hindu site in India and dedicated to the god, Shiva. Its also the only place we have seen the Ganges, and here the river has a very important place in daily life- people wash themselves and their clothes here, pray here, pour their rubbish and waste into, come to die an auspicious death here ( to die here is to be released from the life cycle), and float or burn their dead here.</p><p /><p>At 5.30 am this morning we all boarded a boat, and had a tour of the river, as dawn is the best place to view it and the people. We asked to not be taken to the burning Ghats ( the place were the dead are burnt and then their ashes are scattered) but we still saw a body wrapped in white cloth float past. An unusual insight into Hindu live, but a bit too much for a couple of the girls.</p><p>Tomorrow we get our final train back to Mumbai, which will take 27 hours if it runs to schedule, and then after one more day in Mumbai, we board the plane back to Heathrow on Saturday. I think it will be a bit surreal going home as im so used to constantly be on the move, but im definitely very tired now. I think it will be interesting to see if ive changed at all ( i really dont think so, though a lot of people  think im Spanish now!) and i cant wait to see my family and friends. It will definitely be interesting to see how long i can stay put in England!!</p>

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